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Calgary Family Law Blog

Family law: Staying together while miles apart

There is no one way to describe a family in the 21st century. The family dynamic can be as individual as the people making up the family unit. Legally, the family dynamic in Alberta is governed by family law, and there are certain criteria that need to be upheld like always doing what is in the best interests of children; however, that doesn't always mean a family is located under one roof all the time. 

In fact, according to Statistics Canada, more than a million adults are not living with the person with whom they're in a relationship and many of those are long-term relationships. The incidents of living apart together (LAT) couples as they're called, has risen by 3 per cent in Canada over the last 10 years. What is most interesting is that most of those couples live just about 20 kilometers from each other. 

Collaborative law may be the answer for some Alberta couples

Going to court is not pleasant under any circumstances. A divorcing Alberta couple who would like to stay away from the litigation process may wish to investigate how the collaborative law process may be able to help them to reach decisions on issues that have been problematic. Couples involved in the collaborative divorce process sign agreements that they will be transparent and forthright in the bargaining process to try to keep their cases from going to court.

Each individual has his or her own lawyer who will negotiate in good faith. Others may also be called upon to help such as accountants and family therapists. Negotiations take place with the aim of finding solutions that are mutually agreeable and that benefit everyone. Ground rules are laid out so a couple can stay within boundaries set for negotiating.

Family law child support guidelines for the self-employed

Divorced entrepreneurs who are on the line for paying child support need to know how that support should be calculated. Family law rules in Alberta say child support payments should be determined on the payor's income, but that's not always so easy to calculate for those who own businesses. A parent who is paying child support must, under the law, be transparent about his or her income and benefits. If the parents can't come to some understanding of what child support payments should be, a court will look at expenses the payor claims under the Income Tax Act to come to a decision on payments.

A family court judge will issue a ruling of adverse inference if an entrepreneurial parent fails to provide complete disclosure of his or her compensation, benefits and a detailed explanation of his or her expense claims. An accountant may need to be called in to review the self-employed parent's financial statements to come to a income guide for calculating child support payments. The same method would be used when deciding on spousal or support for a former common law partner.

Family law: Resilient children can more easily overcome obstacles

Raising children who are resilient to life's occasional turmoil is one of the greatest tasks of a parent. It can be a daunting task, too, especially when in today's technological world, parents are inundated with so much information about the proper way to raise children. Family law in Alberta provides parents with a number of tools to make positive decisions for their children who may be having rough patches in dealing with divorce. 

There isn't a parent on earth who is perfect. When children see the humanness of their parents and their ability to bounce back from a potentially life-altering situation, it builds the same resilience in them. Children learn how to live and will often emulate their caregivers, who, primarily, are their parents. When kids see their parents coping with and pushing through stress, they learn to do the same.

Family law: Divorce may affect Alberta couples'retirement plans

There is no area that divorce doesn't touch in couples' lives. Family law in Alberta has rules regarding many facets of divorce, including the financial aspects. Although some couples may have been struggling for a while when they decide to separate or divorce, some may not have given thought to how divorce might affect their retirement plans. It can change circumstances and one or both individuals may find that they can't afford to retire when they thought they could.

Women are particularly susceptible to divorce, particularly with more couples divorcing later in life. It may be hard for some women to recover financially, especially if they have relied on their husbands to take care of the finances in their marriages. Many women may not have saved money in their own accounts and suddenly the income that has looked after one household may have to sustain two. 

Family law process can help in co-parenting children of divorce

Besides the couple actually going through a divorce, no one feels the stress more than any children they may have. But, thanks to the family law process in Alberta, these parents have the tools necessary to successful co-parent their children even when they're no longer living in the same household. Just because they may have two homes now doesn't mean these kids aren't still part of a family -- it's just that the family dynamic has changed.

Co-parenting doesn't have to be complicated. When parents put the best interests of their children first, it's easier for any animosity that exists between them to become a secondary or nonissue. Each parent has something unique to bring to their children's lives and when a divorced couple realizes that they each have strengths and weaknesses, they may be able to better work together when it comes to co-parenting their kids.

Child Support and Post-Secondary Education and the "Farden Factors"

In Alberta, the law on what constitutes a "child of the marriage" continues to evolve. There is a common misconception that when a child reaches the age of majority (18 in Alberta), he or she is no longer entitled to support. This is incorrect. Pursuant to the Divorce Act (Canada), if a child is over the age 18 but is unable to obtain the necessities of life, he or she may be entitled to child support.

Costs: Who Bears the Burden at the End of Litigation

When Family law goes to litigation it can be a lengthy and drawn out process. Although it can be a relief when your matter is resolved, that relief can quickly dissipate knowing you are faced not only with your own costs, but costs for the other party as well. Accordingly, it is helpful to have some knowledge about costs ahead of your next court appearance.

Interim Distribution of Matrimonial Property

Breaking up is expensive, particularly when parties resort to litigation. It is not uncommon for large disparities in parties' financial means to frustrate the division of matrimonial property. For example, one party may initiate proceedings and be ready to move the matter forward while the other party does not have the finances to advance his or her side of the litigation.

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